10But the Lord said, “You have been concerned about this plant, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. 11And should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left—and also many animals?”
Jonah is worried about a bush, and God is concerned about people and animals. Jonah has nothing to do with the growth or the demise of the bush; however, it seems to be the proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back. Have you ever reacted explosively to a “last straw” and in the reacting realized the pettiness in yourself?
It seems that God seizes the moment to show Jonah, by contrast, the folly of his concern for insignificant, temporal things and God’s great plan for humankind. His gentle, persuasive words are spoken to lead Jonah to Truth. God’s treatment of Jonah is very different from his in-your-face statements to his servant Job: “He was blameless—a man of complete integrity” (Job 1:1). God recognizes the distance between Jonah and himself and woos him. In addition to the attributes Jonah credits to God (4:2), his personal, individual work in each of our lives is another part of God we can count on. God knows us, and he knows what is needed to bring us to repentance. We can trust him. He cares for the 120,000 persons and their animals in one wicked city as well as the single “righteous” Hebrew who refuses to understand. God doesn’t give up on us. It’s his plan, his story. Where are you in his story?